Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

California took a huge step today in protecting orcas. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that now makes orca breeding and captivity programs illegal in the state of California, the first state to ban such programs.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “California parks will also be banned from featuring the marine mammals, known as killer whales, in performances for entertainment purposes. Starting in June next year, orcas in captivity can be used for ‘educational presentations’ only.” These educational or scientific exceptions will include rehabilitating orcas or using them for research.

In March, SeaWorld ended their orca breeding program after coming under fire for animal cruelty, shown in the 2013 documentary “Blackfish.” SeaWorld had previously called the film “propaganda” and released an #AskSeaWorld campaign in an attempt to improve their image. The campaign failed and many Twitter users, including actress Holly Marie Combs, started snapping back at SeaWorld with their own hashtags, such as #EmptytheTanks.

In June, California lawmakers began to see overwhelming support for their proposed bill. They approved the California Orca Protection Act, which if violated, would face $100,000 in fines. The bill will end captivity for theatrical purposes, in addition to making it illegal “to export, collect, or import the semen, other gametes, or embryos of an orca held in captivity for the purpose of artificial insemination.”

Activists now hope that other states will follow suit.

Social Media Supports Ban on Orca Captivity

What do you think of California’s decision to ban orca captivity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!